Analysis of Act Iv, Scene I, Lines 89-106 (Friar Laurence)

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Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's tragic plays. It is about two star crossed lovers who commit suicide when their feuding families prevent them from being together. The play has many characters, each with his/her own role in keeping the plot line. Some characters do not have a great amount of lines, but have the plot revolving around them. Such a character is Friar Laurence. At first glance, one may overlook this character and dismiss him as only a minor player in the story of Romeo and Juliet. Upon closer examination, it becomes obvious that the Friar plays a crucial role in the development of the play. Throughout the play he attempts to guide young Romeo and Juliet through their struggles, and unwittingly causes their deaths.

Friar Laurence does just this in the passage I have chosen to analyse, Act IV scene i, lines 89-106. By now Romeo and Juliet are already secretly married, and Juliet has come crying to the Friar in hopes that he will devise a plan for her to get out of her predicament of being forced to marry Paris. Bring the sympathetic and paternal man that he is, cannot deny her request. And being the religious man that he is, he wants to find a way to avoid doubly marrying Juliet, so he helps her plan her "death". Here we see the control that Friar Laurence has over the events that occur.

The Friar brings out his deadly weapon- a vial of distilled liquor -that will, when drunk, cause Juliet to fall into a deep, death-like slumber. All of her blood will flow cold through her veins, her heart and lungs will cease to move, and her limbs will become stiff and clammy, just like a corpse. Then in forty two hours time, she will awake in the family tomb, as if she had merely been sleeping, and the banished Romeo will be by her side.

The purpose of this scene is to increase interest and suspense for the audience. It further characterises Friar Laurence as a caring man, a healer who wants to eliminate the suffering of those...
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